In the worst-case scenario 50,000 Canadians could die from the potential bird flu pandemic, epidemiologist Danuta Skowronski tells CBC's Anna Maria Tremonti. Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, occurs naturally in birds and less commonly in pigs. But when the virus jumps from bird to human, medical experts start to worry. The possibility of the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian flu being transmitted from human to human has scientists preparing for the worst.
2. The origin of the flu - Radio
Broadcast Date: Feb. 6, 1981
Fatigue, muscle aches, throat irritation, fever, sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose. These are the all too familiar symptoms of influenza, commonly known as the flu. This highly contagious respiratory disease makes as many as five million Canadians sick a year. Influenza is not new. In fact, the flu virus is as "old as the hills," as CBC's Mark Orkin explains in this radio clip. "I have no doubt that Neanderthal man was sniffling and sneezing with it in his cave a million years ago."
3. Surviving 'The Spanish Lady - TV
Broadcast Date: April 10, 2003
On March 4, 1918, the first case of a new strain of influenza appeared on a U.S. military base in Kansas. Within months, the virus had spread across the continent and on to Europe, where it would infect tens of thousands, including the sick, the elderly and otherwise healthy young people. Before it ran its course the Spanish flu would kill more than 40 million people and affect virtually every country on earth. This CBC Television clip looks at the virus's deadly legacy in one rural Alberta town.
When your eyes begin to water and your nose turns blue,
if your lips begin to quiver, then you've got the Spanish Flu.
This is some of the folk wisdom that sprung up during the global epidemic many came to call the "Spanish Lady." Emerging in the dying days of the First World War, the virus caught an unsuspecting and ill-informed populace fatally off-guard ? killing millions in what is considered one of the greatest pandemics in history.
To help halt the spread of the virus, most public gathering places were shut down. This left schools closed, public meetings banned and businesses temporarily closed. Whole towns were quarantined, with no one allowed to leave or enter under threat of arrest. Funerals were often skipped and mass burials were a regular occurrence. Some U.S. cities used streetcars as hearses, and bodies were left piled in public halls awaiting burial. Barring a vaccine or therapeutic drugs, doctors of the day prescribed rest, liquids and "a great deal of hope."
4. Unearthing a deadly mystery - Radio
Broadcast Date: March 21, 1997
It's the question disease experts have been asking for decades: how did the Spanish flu kill so many, so fast – especially the young and healthy? After years of searching, a U.S. Army pathologist has isolated the first known sample of the notorious 1918 virus – in the lung tissue of a soldier killed during the First World War. In this clip, CBC Radio's Michael Enright discusses the implications of the landmark discovery and its significance for future research
5. The Asian flu arrives in Canada - TV
Broadcast Date: Sept. 29, 1957
It's been nearly 40 years since the last major outbreak of influenza swept the world, but the deadly memories still persist. Now the Asian flu, the latest viral threat to human health has reached North America and public health officials are scrambling to head off another devastating pandemic. This report from CBC Television assesses the damage across Canada and looks at what's being done at UN headquarters in New York City.
The Asian flu (also known as the oriental flu) is believed to have originated in northern China in February 1957. It hit Canada in the fall of that year, forcing the closure of schools, public gathering places and eventually killed an estimated 2,000 people. By the time it ran its course in the spring of 1958, this strain had claimed an estimated two million lives worldwide, making it the second most fatal flu pandemic in history.
6. The swine flu fiasco - TV
Broadcast Date: Feb. 21, 1983
In February 1976, a 19-year-old soldier died at Fort Dix, N.J., after coming down with a severe case of influenza dubbed the "swine flu". Fearing a return of the fatal 1918 Spanish flu virus, U.S. authorities launched an unprecedented program to vaccinate every man, woman and child in the country. But after two months and tens of million of dollars, the program was scrapped when reports leaked out about adverse reactions to the shot that ranged from temporary paralysis to death. This CBC Television clip looks at the ill-fated initiative, which was blamed for casting suspicion on vaccination efforts for an entire generation.
U.S. President Gerald Ford's National Influenza Immunization Program began in Oct. 1 1976, with free vaccination clinics in Indianapolis. Canada followed suit days after, even though no cases of the virus had been detected north of the border.
7. Journey of a vaccine - TV
Broadcast Date: Oct. 30, 2002
There is no cure for the flu since the influenza virus is constantly changing. The best way to prevent aches and pains associated with the flu is vaccination. Each year the World Health Organization plays a guessing game when it comes to predicting the next flu vaccine. Since manufacturers need time to produce the vaccines, the WHO's panel of medical experts makes its recommendations months ahead of upcoming flu season. Despite the guessing involved, the process has been pretty accurate, reports CBC's Maureen Taylor
8. Flu prevention - TV
Broadcast Date: Feb. 14, 1997
With many variants of the flu and the cold bug, the viruses claim plenty of victims each year. Canadians will do just about anything to avoid getting sick but there are many misconceptions when it comes to avoiding the virus. Despite what mothers have said, bundling up does not protect you from the cold, Dr. Pauline Pariser tells an incredulous CBC's Hana Gartner. "Having wet hair, putting your feet in cold water, exposing yourself to cold air... according to the research... there has been no increased incidences of catching a virus."
Another common misconception is that kissing transmits the virus. Not so, says Pariser. For the disease to develop, the virus must pass through the nasopharynx, where the nose and throat meet. This means it is most commonly transmitted through contact with hands.
9. Preparing for the next pandemic - Radio
Broadcast Date: Feb. 4, 2005
It's February 2005, and the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has recently singled out avian flu as the single greatest threat to human health - ranking it even above AIDS. In Canada, the federal government has committed $34 million for the development of a prototype vaccine in the hope of staying one step ahead of a possible avian flu pandemic. In this interview from CBC Radio's The Current, the country's chief public health officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, discusses what's being done to prepare Canadians.
10. Misdiagnosis of the Asian flu - Radio
Broadcast Date: June 25, 1957
Doctors initially misjudge what would become the next big influenza pandemic.
11. Bracing for the Hong Kong flu - Radio
Broadcast Date: Dec. 16, 1968
Reports from across North America about the impact of the 1968 pandemic.
12.Asimov on influenza - Radio
Broadcast Date: Feb. 25, 1976
Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov explains the astral origins of the flu to David Suzuki.
13. Gambling with the public's health - TV
Broadcast Date: Oct. 25, 1976
Americans react warily about reports that the Swine flu vaccine may pack some deadly side effects.
How a lawsuit against the U.S. government became the biggest public claim in history.
15. How the influenza virus works - TV
Broadcast Date: Feb. 21, 1983
Explaining the science of the flu.
16. Astrological influences on the flu - Radio
Broadcast Date: Sept. 29, 1984
A scientist looks at the link between the time of the year and one's susceptibility to the flu.
17. Carbolic acid and goose grease - Radio
Broadcast Date: Jan. 7, 1996
A survivor of the Spanish flu recalls some of the home remedies used to battle the deadly virus.
18. Looking to the past for a flu vaccine for the future - Radio
Broadcast Date: Nov. 24, 1996
Scientists study DNA from 1918 pandemic victims for a vaccine against the next killer flu.
19. Cold comfort - TV
Broadcast Date: Feb. 14, 1997
An examination of the booming market in cold and flu drugs.
20. A dress rehearsal for the next pandemic - Radio
Broadcast Date: April 5, 2003
What SARS has taught us about preparing for the next big flu pandemic.
21. Sensationalism v. science - Radio
Broadcast Date: Feb. 3, 2004
Health experts argue that the concern over Avian influenza may be more hype than substance.
22. Air Farce flu facts - TV
Broadcast Date: Nov. 11, 2005
What's worse: a cold, the flu or that chatty patient in the waiting room who simply won't stop offering helpful advice and opinions? "I live by the rule, feed a fever, feed a cold," rasps the overly friendly woman in this clip. "That way, I'm right 50 per cent of the time." A force of nature, she will not be deterred – even in the face of a highly infectious, terribly painful disease.
23. The social chaos of the Spanish flu - Radio
Broadcast Date: June 23, 2005
How the 1918 pandemic threatened the very structure of Canadian society.
24. A new study suggests being cold can lead to colds - Radio
Broadcast Date: Nov. 14, 2005
British scientists support the folklore of bundling up as an effective way to prevent colds.